Tag Archives: police

On The Thrill Begins – Shutting Places Down Like Eliot Ness

Many of you may not know this, but my road to publication came with some major potholes. As part of the Tough Times series on The Thrill Begins, I explain how I started to feel Untouchable – in a very bad way.

http://thrillbegins.com/2017/05/11/shutting-down-places-like-eliot-ness/

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

Former Pittsburgh narcotics detective Trevor Galloway has been hired to look into the year-old homicide of a prominent businessman who was gunned down on his estate in Central Pennsylvania. When Galloway arrives, he determines the murder could have only been committed by someone extremely skilled in two areas: Skiing and shooting. He believes the assailant should not be too difficult to identify given the great amount of skill and athleticism needed to pull off the attack. When he discovers the victim’s property is next door to a biathlon training camp, the situation becomes significantly more complicated.

Galloway makes plenty of enemies as he sifts through stories about lucrative land deals, possible drug connections, and uncovers evidence suggesting the homicide may have been elaborate suicide. As he attempts to navigate through an unfamiliar rural landscape, he does his best not to succumb to an old drug addiction, or become confused by one of his occasional hallucinations. Oh, and a Pittsburgh drug gang enforcer known as The Lithuanian—if he’s even real—is tracking Galloway and wants to take his eyes. Galloway would rather keep those.

In Bolt Action Remedy, the typically quiet streets of Washaway Township, Pennsylvania become the epicenter of a mystery involving elite athletes and old grudges. For Galloway, the problems keep piling up and somebody out there believes problems should be dealt with by employing the most permanent of remedies.

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

So, You Want to Go to the GOP Convention…

No.  Don’t.  Stay away.

It’s not that I don’t like Cleveland.  I’m not saying this due to any political feelings.  I’m stating this due to my perspective as a former Secret Service agent who has worked events like the Olympic Games, a couple of inauguration’s, and the 2000 DNC Convention in L.A.  Stay home.  Unless your home is in Cleveland.  Then, you should leave.

Any major political event has challenges and all draw emotionally charged people with conflicting points of view.  Even in election years when our society seems to have become polarized and the Democratic and Republicans have platforms so far apart the Juno spacecraft would have trouble covering the distance, most of the security challenges can be overcome to a reasonable extent.  Normally, there are countermeasures and logistical solutions to potential threats and disturbances.  Normally, manpower can be added and technological tools can be utilized to secure a site.  This is not normally.

This election season, guns and violence are not just part of the rhetoric used by factions of supporters.  Some prominent political personalities have actually encouraged violence while, in the same breath, expressing a love of guns.  The situation in Cleveland is compounded by the fact that Ohio has open carry laws, meaning people will be able to carry guns outside the convention location even in areas where glass bottles and tennis balls are prohibited.  This creates an impossible situation for police officers and security officials who are supposed to be able to determine, in a split second, who might be the “good guy with a gun” as opposed to an aggressor while wading through a panicked crowd.

Ohio is an open carry state.

Ohio is an open carry state.

A few months ago, the Cleveland Police ordered 2,000 sets of riot gear.  My first question was:  Is that gear going to have to be used inside OR outside the convention?  My second question was:  Will that be enough?  Forgetting that multiple police jurisdictions (each with their own concerns) will be assisting the Cleveland Division of Police (the department’s official name), the host department is still under heavy scrutiny after the Tamir Rice shooting and other incidents.  They aren’t alone as police departments all over the country are on edge as anti-law enforcement sentiment is on the rise and there are serious concerns regarding how police treat minorities and use force.   Police officers are already under the microscope.  Now thousands of officers will be gathering in Cleveland in an effort to keep the peace among a public that does not trust them.

This is their nightmare scenario.

The Secret Service can’t do it alone.  The agency depends on local and state support and this is no exception.  As I’ve written previously, the Secret Service has a specific role in these events and have no political agenda.  Earlier in this election year, they received negative media attention when an agent was involved in a scuffle with a photographer, although only half the story was told.  Regardless, they are being faced with a scenario in which some level of violence is almost certain to exist and the agency has to protect not only specific individuals, but also ensure the security of the entire venue.

This is their nightmare scenario.

Those who wish to demonstrate outside the convention location in order to peacefully express an opinion are likely to be caught in between frustrated groups who not only dislike each other, but may be armed.  Many of those in the crowd will be carrying deep feelings regarding racial inequality, economic disparity, and religion.  Many will be carrying deadly weapons.  The peaceful and well-meaning will be right in the mix of things.

This is their nightmare scenario.

Regardless of what happens during the actual GOP Convention, one thing will not happen.  Healing will not be part of this process.  If anything, I expect more cuts to be made and more scar tissue will show after the event.  You can watch.  But, watch it from a distance.

Feel free to comment below!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

Police Arguments Against Officers Carrying Narcan to Treat Overdoses are Weak

Naloxone, or Narcan, can save the life of a person who is overdosing on an opioid such as heroin.  Lately, there has been controversy as some police departments have begun training officers how to administer Narcan to individuals should the situation become necessary.  Some believe this measure enables addicts.  Some, including a great many in law enforcement, believe administering a drug should be an exclusive function of a trained medical professional such as an Emergency Medical Technician.  I’ve been shocked at emotion behind some of these arguments, some of which convey zero ambivalence.  As a former law enforcement officer, I realize I can be predisposed to agree with those who carry the badge and my opinions can be viewed as less than objective.  In this post, I want to be completely clear that I believe any police officer that objects to carrying Narcan is dead wrong.

DSC03440-B2

Example:  An officer responds to a call for a subject who went into cardiac arrest at the dinner table.  The officer runs into the house and finds the male subject non-responsive.  The wife is screaming, the kids are crying, tensions are high.  The officer immediately administers CPR or uses an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).  The officer does not ask the wife if the subject recently snorted cocaine.  The officer does not stop to inquire if the subject took meth.  An individual is in distress and the first responder happened to be a police officer, not an EMT.  Period.

Now, I can understand how the officer can feel differently when a drug must be administered intravenously, which is sometimes the case with Narcan (there is also a nasal version).  But, I’ve seen many officers argue through comments on social media pages that the administering of Narcan is “enabling” or is “the job of an EMT”.  With all due respect, those arguments are bogus.

As a police officer, it was not my job to evaluate the lifestyle choices one made that led him or her to be in distress.  Much like when I was a Secret Service agent, it was not my job to judge the political stances of those I had sworn to protect.  In fact, as the Secret Service protects visiting heads of state, I’m certain I protected dictators from third-world nations who were probably guilty of mass killings.  It’s not a pleasant reality, but it’s the job and sometimes the job means you reserve judgement when you are on duty.

Can you imagine police officers responding to a scene and refusing to perform CPR on an individual because she ate cheeseburgers three times a day and let herself become a prime target for a heart attack?  Or an officer putting the AED back in the bag because a the person requiring assistance may have had too many drinks and fell down the stairs in his house?  Where is the line drawn?  Can an officer be slow to call for an ambulance if a drunk driver crashes into a tree?  Is an incident involving marijuana okay, but cocaine is not?  Is a meth addict worth saving, but not a heroin addict?  What about the person who suffered from chronic pain and accidentally got hooked on pills?  These are not choices for any first responder, including a police officer, to make.  The choice was already made when the oath to protect was taken.  You save lives with the tools available.  You save lives and put your judgment aside.

The bottom line is you save lives.  That’s the job.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

 

The Speeding Ticket You Got in Arizona Was Not My Fault – Really!

Being a former police officer and former Secret Service agent, I end up in a lot of conversations with people who want to tell me about some experience he or she has had with law enforcement.  Nine out of ten times, the experience was a somewhat negative one for the individual who was upset about getting a traffic citation, or felt the police did not adequately investigate a crime of which the person was a victim, or the individual was somehow inconvenienced by police activity.

I understand this.  I’ve gotten used to these talks during which I make sure I listen well and do my best to remain objective.  After all, cops aren’t perfect.  There are some patrol officers who are jerks on traffic stops.  There are lazy detectives who fail to follow-up on leads.  There are federal agents who have giant egos.  It happens.  However, most of the frustration that is conveyed in the telling of these stories comes from a misunderstanding of processes, the profession, and what are realistic expectations.  This is something officers experience every day and it happened to me.  I recall a victim of a theft becoming extremely frustrated with me because I didn’t “… force the suspect to take a polygraph.”  Of course, I explained that the police cannot force anybody to take a polygraph test and that the results would be inadmissible in court anyway, but the victim of the crime had already labeled me as inept or apathetic since I hadn’t pursued this unrealistic avenue.

Now while every profession has to endure some level of skepticism and scrutiny, law enforcement is unique in the way many people will attribute the circumstances of a specific officer or incident to any police action.  On the surface, this can make sense to an individual.  However, when one does this with other professions, the exercise becomes a bit silly.  Below, let’s compare some complaints / stories about law enforcement with what would be the equivalent for other professions.

Police story:  “Hey, you were a police officer in Virginia, right?  Well, I was driving in Georgia and this police officer pulled me over and gave me a ticket for going three miles per hour over the speed limit.  Three!  And he completely ignored the cars that were passing me!”

Equivalent in another profession:  “Hey, you work for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, right?  Let me tell you about this time I was driving in Delaware and had to sit in a construction zone for an hour and there was no real construction going on!”

Now, obviously most people would not think to connect a construction zone on a roadway in Delaware to a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation employee, but that’s exactly what people do when discussing policing.  Another example:

Police story:  “Oh, you were in the Secret Service?  Did I tell you about the time I was late to work because the Governor’s security people wouldn’t let me use the elevator because she was visiting our building?”

Equivalent in another profession:  “So, you just retired from Xerox?  Man, we had this Konica copier at my old job and that thing always jammed.  What’s up with that?”

I know.  The conversation with the former Xerox employ would be a ridiculous conversation.  The complaint about a different product created by a different company is essentially the comparing of apples and oranges.  Aside from that, in law enforcement discussions, sometimes people try to compare apples and oranges and what people think are oranges are really tangerines.

In law enforcement, there are tens of thousands of employees in hundreds of agencies who are responsible for a variety of jurisdictions.   So, why do people tend to associate what happens with one agent or officer in a particular region or jurisdiction with an entire profession?  We usually don’t do this with construction workers, accountants, museum curators, or lawyers.  Well… maybe lawyers.  The answer is easy.  Because television, movies, and novels have made us a society of EXPERTS in all matters surrounding the administration of justice.

Many people have derived their knowledge of policing from television shows such as Law and Order, Castle, Criminal Minds, NCIS, CSI, or crime novels.  There are far fewer shows and books about construction workers, accountants, and museum curators, so people don’t believe themselves to be experts in those fields.  However, if we see NCIS Special Agent Gibbs do something on NCIS, then we know it must be partially true.  Right?  I mean lots of agencies have a computer wiz on staff who routinely, and illegally, hacks into the Pentagon in order to get classified records.  Right?

It’s natural for people to be apprehensive about law enforcement.  Many of the interactions we have with the police are negative.  Often our contacts with cops involve either being pulled over for a traffic violation or with having been the victim of some sort of crime. The overall experience may not be pleasant, but every encounter with each individual officer or agent should be evaluated independent of each other.  If an officer yelled at you in Pittsburgh, then the retired L.A. cop you are talking to at a picnic had nothing to do with it.  If you felt a detective in Austin, Texas was unfair to you, the investigator from St. Louis really can’t weigh in on the matter.  If you got jammed up in traffic because of a motorcade rolling through Washington, D.C., then don’t complain to me about…  actually, that could have been me.  Sorry about that one.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

Music and Politics: Elections Can Hit Some High Notes

Last year, my wife and I decided we were going to go see the Foo Fighters perform at a concert outside of Pittsburgh.  I’ve been a fan of the band and their lead singer Dave Grohl for many years and I told my wife I was looking forward to finally seeing them live.  But as I was saying this, I realized I actually had seen Dave Grohl perform live once before.

I flashed back to a scene in 2004 and recalled the streets of Madison, Wisconsin being filled with more than 80,000 people, many of whom were college students.  The event was a campaign rally for Presidential hopeful John Kerry, who was battling George W. Bush for the nation’s top office.  The Secret Service had assigned me to a campaign “advance jump team” meaning I bounced around from city to city in advance of a candidate’s visit to help make security preparations, and then assist in coordinating protection during the event.  This particular event was a challenge due to the large crowd and outdoor venue, but the local authorities worked with us to create a safe environment.

This event stands out in my mind, because prior to Senator Kerry taking the stage, two musical acts were going to perform.  The first was an acoustic performance by none other than Dave Grohl, who was supporting Kerry’s run for the White House.

music

I’m not 100% certain, but I believe he played “Times Like These” and “My Hero” before moving aside for the next musician.  Please forgive me for not remembering every detail, but you have to remember I was a little preoccupied with making sure nobody tried to kill John Kerry.  However, I do remember thinking that Grohl sounded great and the crowd certainly loved the performance.

Grohl then stepped aside for some guy named Bruce Springsteen, who was also supporting the John Kerry / John Edwards ticket.  While I can’t remember much about Springsteen’s performance (Hey, I was busy!), I do remember what happened once he left the stage.  The Boss walked down the street and shook hands with the college students as he made he way toward his tour bus.  Some students who were lined up in front of their own fraternity house asked Springsteen if he wanted to come in and have a beer.  He shrugged and proceeded to move past a barricade, entered the frat house, and had a drink with the students.  I’m guessing that’s not a moment those guys will forget.

After the event in Madison, I bounced around to several other locations before ending up in Boston, Massachusetts on election night.  There, I heard Jon Bon Jovi playing an acoustic set for the pro-Kerry / Edwards crowd.  In spite of the musical firepower possessed by the democrats in 2004, George W. Bush won the election which set up an Inauguration celebration in January 2005.  I don’t recall where I was for George W. Bush’s second Inauguration, but I do remember being posted next to the stage during President Bush’s first Inauguration concert in 2001, and I can say it was a little surreal to see Wayne Newton and Ricky Martin perform within minutes of each other.  We were all Livin La Vida Loca that day.  (Sorry, had to work that into the post somehow)

Musicians playing a role in politics is nothing new and Presidents and Presidential candidates continue to recognize the power of music.  Some understand music is a way to connect with younger generations.  Some see the incorporation of musicians into political events as a way to increase attendance.  Some simply want to see Wayne Newton dance.

The moral of this story is simple.  If you ever, EVER have a chance to ask Bruce Springsteen to have a beer with you — ASK HIM!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in 2017!

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

When a Joke is No Laughing Matter to the Secret Service

The story popped up in my news feed sometime last week:  Secret Service shows up at Columbus man’s door after social media comment

It was the type of headline I had read too many times.  As a former Secret Service agent, and one who has worked a lot of threat cases, I recognized it as the type of investigation I had dealt with repeatedly.  In this particular instance, a man had read a social media post regarding a political event involving Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and posted the comment, “Where do we send the bomb.”  Predictably, somebody notified the Secret Service and Special Agents paid him a visit.  Just as predictably, the man claimed the comment was meant to be a joke.

Against my better judgment, I weeded through the readers’ comments attached to the post regarding the incident.  Some of the comments on the Facebook link I pulled up were:

“He was joking.  This country needs to lighten up a little.”

“Wow… this is getting out of control. Our government would just love to control social media.”

“Quite the overreaction.  But then again, it is the PC world.”

And on and on and on…

image

Of course there are always comments addressing an individual’s rights regarding freedom of speech, but that is another topic altogether and too complex to address in this post.

I am going to try to explain why “joking” threats are no joke at all.  I say “try”, because I cannot and will not reveal exactly how the Secret Service investigates threat cases.  Not only did I sign a nondisclosure agreement a long time ago, but it would be irresponsible to reveal more than what can be found through online open source resources (publicly available).  So, I am going to make an attempt at explaining why threats that are meant to be facetious are dangerous and damaging.

Using the recent Columbus, Ohio incident as an example, the man who made the “joke” stated that the agents who appeared at his home already knew a great deal about him.  Of course until the Secret Service interviews someone who makes a threatening comment there is no way to know if the threat has the potential to be real.

The individual making the threat will have to be interviewed and it is always helpful to know the background of the person you are interviewing.  So one may conclude that these agents, who could be spending their time pursuing legitimate threat cases or working various criminal investigations, have already had to spend time preparing to interview the suspect by gathering background information to include any criminal history, previous threats made, affiliations with terrorist groups, etc.  After all, you would not want to be interviewing a suspect without knowing he has a history of reacting violently to law enforcement or is wanted for murder in three states.  Information can be helpful!  With the prep time, drive time, and interviewing time, and report writing time, we are already talking about HOURS spent on this “joke” which is now a Protective Intelligence case.

But, we are not done.

According to this guide for handling threat cases, threat cases involve:

  • Identification
  • Assessment
  • Classification

Simple right?

Not quite.

Just A Few Hours?

Although hours have already been spent on the person who has been identified as having made a threatening comment, this is just the beginning of a threat case.  Now, the individual will have to be assessed.  This could include more electronic checks, calls to other agencies, visits to psychiatrists, interviews with neighbors, family members, and coworkers, and much more.  Some of these checks may be out of the state, or even out of the country, and many will have to be conducted in person.  Suddenly, multiple agents in various locations are being dedicated to this “joke”.   Real funny.

But, we are not done.

A Few Weeks?

The results of all of these checks and interviews will have to be collected by an agency’s central Intelligence entity or Threat Assessment center.  At which point, MORE agents are going to have to pick through the findings, weigh all of the factors, determine the legitimacy of the threat, and classify the case in a manner that will determine what future level of scrutiny it may receive.  Yes.  I said FUTURE.

Because… we are not done.

Months?  Years?

If at any point it is determined that an individual who made a threat will be prosecuted, then an entire chain of events occurs involving the judicial system.  That chain of events will have to be tracked and monitored.

If at any point it is determined that an individual who made a threat needs to be committed for psychiatric evaluation, then an entire of events occurs involving the mental health system.  That chain of events will have to be tracked and monitored.

If it is determined that an individual COULD be a threat, a significant amount of follow-up and monitoring will be conducted.

Even if it is determined that an individual is likely NOT a threat, the follow-up work may be minimal, but look at what has been done already.

Every single threat needs to be investigated.  Every single one.  Aside from the possibility that every threat communicated makes a violent act seem more feasible to those with disturbed minds or evil intent, a simple social media comment intended to be interpreted as a joke can cause an investigative agency to dedicate an incredible amount of resources throughout the world.  This is why making a threat toward an individual protected by the Secret Service is ALWAYS a big deal.  It is not about having a sense of humor (I have one.  I swear!).  It is about respecting the fact that our protectors have enough rough waters to navigate without any more people making waves.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Am Finally Advocating Body Cameras for Police

Even after what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, I was hesitant to support mandatory body cameras.

Even after what happened in Baltimore, I was hesitant to support mandatory body cameras.

Even after the continued uproar, the controversies, and the headlines, I was hesitant to support mandatory body cameras for police officers.

My hesitation wasn’t because I didn’t want controversial incidents to be recorded.  My hesitation was because I suspected there were implications that some had not considered.  As more time has passed, I’ve come to the conclusion that those implications are secondary to the larger issues concerning police – community relations at this moment.  But, those implications still exists and will have to be addressed as the use of body cameras becomes more prevalent.

The Loss of Discretion by Police Officers

One consideration few body camera advocates take into account is the potential reduction in the use of officer discretion.  Every interaction an officer has will come under heavy scrutiny and will be second-guessed by his/her chain of command as well as the public.  This will result in standardized enforcement and less room for judgment calls out on the street.

I know an officer who used to audio record his traffic stops (this is fifteen years ago).  An accusation was made against him and he gladly turned over the audio tape to internal affairs.  The recording of that traffic stop exonerated him.  However, an investigator listed to the audio of another encounter in which the officer cut a kid a break for a minor offense and, rather than arresting him, called the kid’s parents to come pick him up.  Did the kid need a criminal record?  No.  But, someone in a position to Monday morning quarterback the officer thought otherwise and he was disciplined.  But, perhaps you think officer discretion is a bad thing and that our law enforcement officers should always enforce the law strictly by the criminal code.

Of course, you’ll have to remember that each time you get a speeding ticket for going 70 mph in a 65 mph zone.  You’ll have to be understanding when an officer gives you a citation for drinking alcohol in public outside a sporting event because it’s technically illegal according to some state or local statute.  You’ll have to respect the fact that the public won’t be getting as many breaks because every interaction will be subject to scrutiny.  If your sixteen year old kid gets caught with a beer, the officer may not poor the suds in the grass and allow you to administer discipline, but instead will put your child into the legal system.  This is likely to create more tension with the public and result in accusations that the police are being overly harsh, but this is the new world in which we are choosing to live.  And I’ve finally come around to believe this is going to be necessary.

The Bad Ones

We’ve all seen the stories in the media that concern bad cops getting caught doing something that is clearly wrong by their own, or another officer’s body cam footage.  This is a good thing.  No doubt.  If a law enforcement officer violates someone’s rights or abuses their power, then they need to face the consequences.  Great.

The Tough Calls

Then there is the footage we’ve seen of officer’s making split-second decisions that aren’t quite as clear cut.  These are judgment calls and some members of the public may see an abuse of power, while others see justifiable action.  These incidents fall into gray areas and, depending on how the story is being spun, can lead to misinformation and misconceptions.   Some of these problems are brought on by the way police have been portrayed in fiction, which I’m mentioned before.

The Exonerations You Do Not See on TV

Then there is the footage you don’t see as often.  These are the body cam clips that completely exonerate officers and disprove false accusations of excessive force, racial profiling, or criminal activity.  These clips are out there and there are dozens if not hundreds of them.  But these clips usually aren’t put on the 6:00 news, because to many out there good policing isn’t as interesting bad policing.  Due to inconsistent body camera policies between departments and no centralized reporting mechanism, getting statistics on exonerations is difficult.  However, I’m certain body cameras and dash cameras have prevented or disproven scores of false accusations already.

Dash cameras have become an effective tool for law enforcement, as well as the public.

Dash cameras have become an effective tool for law enforcement, as well as the public.

Lately, I’ve thought back to when I worked as a patrol officer in Virginia and how I received three citizen complaints during my time there.  Each of them was investigated and labeled “unfounded”, but I’d bet at least two of those complaints would never have been filed if I would have been able to say, “Sir, you’re on camera and this entire conversation has been recorded.”  (The third complaint accused me of lying to a suspect during an interrogation.  Which I did.  Because you can, as long as you aren’t lying about a person’s rights.  But, that’s another topic.)

Protection for All Outweighs Breaks for Some

It took a while for me to get here, but after weighing the pros and cons of police body cameras, I’ve come to the conclusion that they are necessary for EVERYONE’S protection – including the police who serve us honorably every day.  There are plenty of other issues to work out, to include costs and training, and some major legal questions exist.

For instance, some have argued that body camera footage should be public record.  That’s nuts.  If you had a loud verbal argument with your spouse and the police had to respond to your home, do you want all of that on YouTube.  Of course not.  Some have argued that body camera footage should never be made public.  That’s equally as nuts.  Of course there will be times when the footage will need to be released in order for departments to maintain some level of transparency.  The answer is somewhere in between and will have to be determined by those who specialize in privacy law and police matters.  But, as a tool, body cameras are here to stay and that’s not a bad thing for our society.

Any thoughts on body cameras for police?  Leave a comment!

 

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

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Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

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Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology